Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 89, Issue 3, pp 383–396 | Cite as

Managing tropical agroforestry for conservation of flocking migratory birds

  • Molly E. McDermott
  • Amanda D. Rodewald
  • Stephen N. Matthews


Agroforestry systems have great potential to conserve biodiversity in highly-altered tropical landscapes. Although certain types of agroforestry, such as shade-coffee and cacao, are well known to support a diverse assemblage of resident and migratory birds, the ability of silvopastures to contribute to bird conservation is poorly understood. Important physiognomic differences among agroforestry systems suggest that the most effective habitat management strategies to support migratory birds may likewise differ. We surveyed two common agroforestry systems, shade-coffee plantations and silvopastures, in the Colombian Andes from 2011 to 2013 to identify which physiognomic features were most heavily associated with use by mixed-species flocks and migratory birds. Contrary to our expectations, the same management strategies may perform well in both systems. Flock activity increased with increasing canopy cover and tree density in both shade-coffee and silvopastoral systems. In addition, abundances of several migratory bird species within flocks increased with tree basal area and structural complexity, indicating that complex agroforests with a mid-range of canopy cover will provide the most suitable habitat for migrants attending mixed-species flocks. Our study suggests that suitability of shade-coffee and silvopastoral systems can be improved for overwintering migrants by increasing canopy cover to 25–40 % and incorporating emergent shade trees to produce a basal area of >5 m2/ha.


Andes Cerulean Warbler Colombia Mixed-species flock Shade-coffee Silvopasture 



We gratefully acknowledge financial support from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Center for Latin American Studies (Tinker Field Research Grant), and the Explorers Club Exploration Fund. The Ohio State University and Terrestrial Wildlife Ecology Lab provided administrative and logistical support. L. Schofield, D. Slager, M. Shumar, J. Muñoz, and S. Chaparro contributed valuable field assistance. We thank G. Colorado, C. Mazo, E. Munera, and G. Suarez for support with field site logistics in Colombia. Finally, we thank the many other individuals who assisted with site access and other logistics throughout Antioquia.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Molly E. McDermott
    • 1
  • Amanda D. Rodewald
    • 2
  • Stephen N. Matthews
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environment and Natural ResourcesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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